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21 simple ways to add math to your kids' summer

They'll never know they're studying!

Grocery shopping

Worried about brain drain this summer? Throughout the Hudson Valley, our kids can experience something known as “summer learning loss.” The brain is just like a muscle and, like any muscle, needs to be worked out and stretched, or else it weakens.

Keeping children involved in learning during the summer months can help students start off on the right foot in the fall, and there are lots of fun ways to keep school skills honed.

Read more: Child Behavior: Preventing the summer brain drain

Here are some fun and easy ways to practice everyday math skills at any age. Your kids won’t even know they’re studying!

1. Use measuring and fraction skills when you bake or cook with your child. This is a great way to show your child the relevance of math in their everyday life.

2. At the grocery store, have your child figure out how many pounds of produce to get without going over a certain dollar amount. For example, say, “Please weigh and bring me $3 worth of Granny Smith apples.”

3. Study and graph weather. Make bar graphs, circle graphs or pictographs for sunny, rainy, cloudy or snowy days. Find the mean, median, range and mode for the high and low temperatures each month.

4. Research cool careers that use math. Some interesting ones include architect, astronaut, fashion designer, forensic analyst and computer programmer.

5. Learn about the lives of famous mathematicians and what they accomplished (for instance, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and John Nash (from A Beautiful Mind)

Read more: Tips to keep kids learning over the summer

6. Let your child plan a special dinner. Then give them a budget and let them shop for the ingredients without going over the budget.

7. Plan a trip together and calculate the miles you will travel at a designated speed. Decide how long it will take to get there.

8. Give your child an allowance that they have to manage. Together decide how much they will save, spend and give away.

9. If your child is a teen with a summer job, help them write a budget and open a savings account.

10. When shopping for a new toy, backpack or school supplies, look at sale flyers from several stores. Have your child find which store has the best bargain for the item they want.

Read more: 25 things every child should try this summer

11. Play store with young children. Let them pick out toys and household items and put price tags on them. Then give them money to practice counting and paying for the items.

12. Read math picture books like The Greedy Triangle, The Grapes of Math, The Doorbell Rang, How Big is a Foot? or The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

13. Have your tween or teen pick out the make, model and year of a car they would like to buy when they are 18. Look up the value of the car and figure out how much they will have to earn every week until they are 18 to buy the car.

Measuring 14. Walk around your house and find examples of parallel and perpendicular lines in doorways, walls, furniture and more.

15. Find various geometric shapes around your house and yard. Draw or take photographs and label the shapes and what they comprise (for instance, the roof, the mailbox, the deck railing) and make your own version of a book like Tana Hoban’s “Shapes, Shapes, Shapes.”

16. Have daily countdowns to special events, such as a “___ shopping days until Christmas.”

17. Play games that involve math, such as card games like Uno and Crazy Eights. Dominoes are a simple and fun way to keep the numbers crunching.

18. Make up a word problem of the day every day and have your child solve it. Keep it fun and funny.

19. Cut food into fractional parts and talk about it. Use the food fractions to introduce equivalent fractions.

20. Take a tour of your local bank. Talk to your child about words like loan, interest and principal.

21. Keep math resources on hand. Math tools like rulers, seamstress tapes, tangrams, pattern blocks, play money, fraction bars, counters, and geometric shapes are great for kids to make discoveries with while playing. Also, keep a good math dictionary on your bookshelf to help with terms you may have forgotten.

Janeen Lewis is a freelance writer and teacher.